The White House is warning that America could soon lose the ability to provide Ukraine’s defence forces with needed weapons and munitions if Congress doesn’t act to pass the supplemental funding bill proposed by President Joe Biden last month.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday told reporters that Mr Biden still wants Congress to move funding for Ukraine, Israel, defence needs in the Indo-Pacific and US border security in the single package which the president submitted on 20 October, the day after he delivered an Oval Office address in which he urged the US legislature to maintain “American leadership” in the world by supporting Ukraine and Israel in their defensive struggles against Russia and Hamas.
The $105bn package would provide Kyiv with $60bn in defence assistance, plus $14bn to Israel, with the funds largely going to US arms manufacturers to pay for replenishing stockpiles of weapons and munitions that have been drawn down to provide to both US allies.
Just under a month after Mr Biden asked for the emergency funding measure, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has not moved to take up his request, though members of the Democratic-controlled Senate have begun work on a border funding compromise that could enable all of Mr Biden’s priorities for Israel and Ukraine to be funded in turn.
But funding for Ukraine’s defence faces a tough road in the House, where a significant number of hardline Republican members have refused to support more funding to Kyiv because doing so would give Mr Biden a victory.
Mr Kirby said the lack of action by Congress thus far is forcing “tough decisions” about the packages provided by the US in recent months due to the dwindling amount of money which the Defense Department can legally spend on supporting Kyiv’s efforts.
“They're coming near the end of the road ... and Ukraine continues to be involved in an active dynamic fight all along that front,” from the Donbas down towards south of Zaporizhia and Kherson, he said. “It’s an active battle front, and our ability to continue to support Ukraine is increasingly at jeopardy if we don’t get the supplemental funding.”
Mr Kirby added that “there should be no reason” why members of Congress should not be able to act on funding Ukraine’s defence if they “believe in US national security”.